Letter: Reasons to Vote for the Recall in September and NOT Wait until April 2021

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When someone asks you to “Just wait 7 more months,” my response would be, “why wait when relief is here now?”

In April 2018, Vanessa Alvarado narrowly acquired a seat on the Select Board after campaigning on “transparency” and promising to solve the “trust gap” she alleged existed. 

Two years later in March 2020, within a compressed three-week time frame, thousands of concerned Reading voters successfully not only met but also actually exceeded the purposely rigorous standards outlined in the Town’s Home Rule Charter and initiated the recall process to remove Ms. Alvarado from the Select Board. Their efforts were triggered by her inappropriate handling of the police chief search and hiring process, as well as her continual indifference to the Home Rule Charter. 

Although a Recall Election could have occurred in June, SB members, Mark Dockser, Anne Landry, and Karen Herrick, assisted by former BOH Chair Emmy Dove (ardent supporters of Ms. Alvarado) voted to delay her recall election until September 1st, concurrent with the state election. Yet again, Ms. Alvarado’s supporters are now attempting to delay her accountability to the electorate by encouraging them to vote against the recall in favor of a “just wait until April” line of logic when her term expires. 

Which begs the question: Why vote FOR the recall in September and not wait until April?

The first and simplest response is that Ms. Alvarado must be held accountable to every voting household in Reading, especially since the Recall Election has already been delayed by several months. In addition, the longer Ms. Alvarado remains in office, the more damage she is able to inflict on Reading residents, both financially, and more importantly, upon community cohesion. With Ms. Alvarado present on the SB, Reading has become almost unrecognizable. It is now a place where vitriolic attacks and cancel culture are commonplace; where longstanding and respected citizens have experienced horrific, baseless, character assassinations, often at the hands Ms. Alvarado’s loudest supporters. 

Furthermore, Ms. Alvarado’s unwarranted financial costs to the town are a waste of hard-earned taxpayer funds. She submitted unsubstantiated claims against 912 of our neighbors by trying to invalidate their signatures to forestall or eliminate the recall election. Ms. Alvarado ultimately withdrew all 912 objections, but by June 30th, her associated legal fees alone for Reading taxpayers were $35,000. The total figure is much higher; $35K does NOT include legal expenses after July 1st. Nor does this amount include the hundreds of town staff and volunteer hours spent preparing for what was thought to be a lengthy hearing to adjudicate her 912 false objections.

Finally, to answer: Why September not April?  In her short time as a member of the Select Board, Ms. Alvarado has demonstrated a well-documented and troubling pattern. That is: her willingness to repeatedly evade accountability to voters and to the Home Rule Charter, at any cost. Reading voters have witnessed and actually experienced the negative impact of Ms. Alvarado’s behavior on the Select Board. The great irony is that Ms. Alvarado ran on promises of transparency and accountability—the very standards she herself has violated. 

I urge all concerned and conscientious Reading citizens to vote FOR THE RECALL on September 1st and elect John Halsey to once again get Reading back on track.


James Steenbruggen
Edgemont Avenue 

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